Weary of seeing growth slowed by customers fearful of patent infringement claims, RFID technology vendors continue to come to terms with Round Rock Research. Alien Technology and Invengo both signed patent licensing agreements with Round Rock this week, becoming the fifth technology vendors to ink a deal in the last five weeks.
The agreements follows last week’s settlement between Round Rock and Avery Dennison RBIS, the biggest player in the RFID retail apparel space. Smartrac NV and Motorola Solutions reached a decision last month, the language of which opened the floodgates for further settlements. Checkpoint Solutions and Round Rock ironed out a deal in May.
Round Rock began suing Macy’s, American Apparel and other users of RFID almost two years ago. The suits have focused almost entirely on the retail sector within the U.S.
“We do believe that the Round Rock situation did slow the rate of growth down,” says Neil Mitchell, director of marketing for Alien, which does about half of its business in the retail sector. “With this behind us, we expect the market to pick up and we do have a good business in retail and that’s the industry that has been most affected. We’re confident we can return to growth rates we were experiencing prior to this uncertainty.”
Alien can now provide licensed tags and readers to its retailers, brand owners, supply chain partners and other Alien end users. Users of Alien’s licensed reader and tag products, together or in combination with other products similarly licensed, have assurances that they are free from Round Rock RFID patent infringement assertions.
Invengo’s deal covers inlays, tags and readers. “Invengo is excited to be able to deliver RFID licensed products to our customers,” says Joe Gomillion II, Invengo’s executive VP for the Americas and Europe. “Protecting our customer’s interest is paramount to Invengo Technology’s future success. The Round Rock RFID license agreement is a critical step in stimulating new RFID opportunities.”
“Alien is in the unique position of providing UHF Passive RFID chips, tags and readers. Controlling all of these assets enables Alien to provide both licensed tags and readers to the industry,” said Dr. Weijie Yun, who became Alien’s CEO last month. “This agreement resolves risk of litigation and provides retailers and brand owners the assurance that products provided by Alien are licensed. This resolution is part of the larger industry effort to mitigate concerns caused by litigation and help return the market to the growth trends previously enjoyed.”